City Of Angels: Seth Bogart

City Of Angels: Seth Bogart

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE BRINGS TOGETHER GENERATIONS OF STORIED ROCK-AND-ROLL ARTISTS IN LOS ANGELES—WHERE THE SO-CALLED DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS JUST ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP ON CREATING LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW. CHECK BACK DAILY FOR MORE FROM THE SERIES

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE BRINGS TOGETHER GENERATIONS OF STORIED ROCK-AND-ROLL ARTISTS IN LOS ANGELES—WHERE THE SO-CALLED DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS JUST ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP ON CREATING LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW. CHECK BACK DAILY FOR MORE FROM THE SERIES

Photography: Hedi Slimane

Text: Patrik Sandberg

Seth Bogart's relentless quest and affinity for cartoonish aesthetics may just be the perfect analogy for the space his music occupies, subverting what might seem like a quintessentially pop narrative, and turning it into that of a true punk rocker. With the release of 2016's Seth Bogart, his first album under his own name, Bogart builds on the sonic persona he has spent over a decade developing in various incarnations (Gravy Train!!!!, Hunx and his Punx), establishing an identity that is all his own. With an apporpriately colorful cast of guest stars including Kathleen Hanna, Clementine Creevy, and even the young Tavi Gevinson, the album is a parade of brilliant punk anthems, and an instant cult classic. Here, Bogart speaks with V editor Patrik Sandberg on the evolution of his act, and his ultimate desires.

When did you get interested in punk rock?

SETH BOGART I guess I kind of got into it with riot grrrl music, from Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, and then following riot grrrl drama through that, and then discovering Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. It wasn’t old-fogey ’70s punk. It was ’90s girls. I met this riot grrrl at my high school, and she showed me stuff in ninth grade.

When did you start making music?

SB I got a guitar when I was 14. I made really, really, really bad music as a teen. I learned to play Smashing Pumpkins and Hole songs.

Rite of passage.

SB I was all tentative until I found punk. Back then, there was no Internet. I mean, there was. There was AOL, but it wasn’t like it is today.

When you were doing Gravy Train!!!!, did you feel like that was a punk band?

SB Looking back, I feel like we were so punk. At the time we were trying to make pop music, but when I listen now I’m like, That is not pop music. It’s almost like super sped-up shitty K-Pop. I don’t know what it is. I tried listening, but I was like, What is this?

Well, it was bratty and aggressive.

SB Yeah, and very fast. It was very bratty. I don’t think we were trying to be punk at all. I mean, I was in punk bands before that, but if anything I thought that it was electronic. It’s not. It was like a keyboard and a guitar, so I guess it was pretty punk.

There was something going on at that time. Electroclash sort of became a new form of punk. All you needed was a keyboard or a drum machine. Anyone could have a band, which is the same ethos as punk.

SB I think we got called [Electroclash], but I think we were more punk, just not necessarily intentionally.

Where are you from?

SB Tucson.

But you moved to San Francisco and then found your way to L.A.

SB Yeah, it took a long time because I had a stupid hair salon.

What attracted you to L.A.?

SB I mean, I loved San Francisco back in the day, but honestly the last five years that I lived there, I hated it. I just couldn’t leave because I had a business, but as soon as I could get out of that, I did. Mostly, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with Disneyland and celebrities, so I wanted to be closer to that, honestly.

“Pink Christmas” isn’t a Hunx and his Punx song, or a Seth Bogart song, it’s a collaboration with Cody Critcheloe called Slink. But the cameo from Angelyne in the video feels very you.

SB Thank you! I don’t know why I get that credit. I love Angelyne. She is so insane. I’ve been out to dinner with her at McDonalds and French Market. She’s like the biggest hustler. Me and Cody and J.J. [Jennifer Juniper Stratford, director] went to French Market with her. She ordered strawberries and A1 sauce, and she made us eat them together. Then right when we put them in our mouths, she went, “Isn’t this the grossest thing you’ve ever tasted?” Which I thought was really punk. And she made me order her more food, and when I went to pick it up the guy gave me like 100 packets of salt, and said, “Angelyne really likes her salt.” I didn’t even ask for it. They just gave it to me. She’s cool.

I did an interview with her over the phone a long time ago and when I went to L.A. I met up with her. I just remember staring her in the face and being like, You’re not human. You are an alien.

SB That’s why I like celebs—and she’s like the ultimate celeb—because they’re totally alien.

I was amazed you got her in the video because I’ve tried to get her in videos before and she always said that her fee to appear on film was $17,000.

SB Yeah, she told us that to photograph her mouth would cost $20,000, but she would wear the fan over her face for significantly less. The girl who made the video, J.J., my friend, she had photographed her for something and really liked her. I think that was our ticket. Then wining and dining her at McDonalds really sealed the deal.

So, living in L.A. do you have any fun ghost stories about running into any of these rock-and-roll dinosaurs anywhere?

SB I love that about L.A. I’ve been to Alice Bag’s house for a party. It was very…organized. I’ve tried to stalk Danzig. I’ve walked by his house on Franklin that looks super haunted and scary, but I’ve never seen him. And I never met Kim Fowley but I had his phone number and I prank called him.

What was the prank?

SB I was going to put his number on a Hunx record. You know how you can write a stupid message on the actual record? I was going to put his number and write, “Prank call me.” I don’t know, we were probably just like, “How big are your breasts?” or something like that. And then I asked if it was KFC. I don’t know, something stupid. He’s kind of the ultimate dinosaur.

What’s your craziest story with performing?

SB Probably in France. I was getting every single article of clothing ripped off of me and the microphone stolen from me, and then people were getting pissed because I couldn’t perform any longer, but I was like, “I’m naked and don’t have a microphone, so I don’t know what you want me to do.” That was probably—wait what was the question?

When you were making your new record, Seth Bogart, what was the creative jumping-off point?

SB Well, I always wanted to work with Cole [Cole MGN, also known as Cole M. Greif-Neill, an L.A.-based producer] since like a million years ago, and once I finally moved here it seemed like the right time. But I honestly just did not want to be in a band anymore. I just had to find a way that was exciting for me to make music again, and I think that was working at Cole’s house, me and him. I wanted to make something that was the truest form of me because I never really related to Hunx. It was all just a novelty act or something, and then Gravy Train!!!!—we were so young and insane. I wanted to make something that felt really me.

How has everything you’ve decided to do visually tie into the music?

SB I truthfully wanted to make a cartoon band and not be shown at all, but I kind of wanted that to be the next step, and I guess that’s because I really enjoy painting and drawing and the visual side of music. I don’t really trust musical artists that don’t also do visual art. No, not that I don’t trust them, but I like artists who do more than one thing. I wanted it to be a cartoon, actually. I wanted to have a bridge to that, so this is kind of a midway step for me. I’m more interested in that in the future, like that pop star that’s a hologram. I’m into that. I love her.

It gives me a Muppets/Pee Wee’s Playhouse, fucked-up vibe.

SB Thank you. There’s one video that’s so fucked up. I can’t wait for you to see it.

I love how gross it is. The idea of a cartoon coming to life is actually pretty disgusting.

SB Not to me. It makes me horny. I wish it made me uncomfortable. Maybe there’s something wrong with me. I just don’t want to be 40 years old and screaming in my underpants. That’s why I want to become a cartoon.

Don Bolles literally does that.

SB That’s cool though. I just feel like at the age I’m at now to age 50 you have to chill out, but when you get to a certain age you can be whatever the fuck you want. I think I’m not old enough, too. I’m at an awkward in between age, where I want to become a cartoon until I can emerge as a creepy old man. That’s my fantasy.

Is that where the painted-on hair comes from?

SB Kind of. That’s the stepping-off point, becoming plastic.

Being plastic is different from being a cartoon.

SB I know, but I feel like you can’t really become a cartoon if you’re human, so it’s like the closest step, right?

So are you thinking plastic surgery?

SB I wish. If I had enough money. I just heard that you can get penis implants. That sounds cool. I’d like to have a big disgusting huge one.

That sounds painful.

SB I know, but that sounds exciting, too. I mean, actually, I wouldn’t really do it, but I thought it was cool that it’s offered now. I would get plastic surgery. It sounds fun. Wouldn’t you?

It depends.

SB I’d definitely get a bigger butt.

Every time I’ve had to have surgery the recovery has been awful, so I can’t imagine electing for it. I’m more interested in the idea that technology will be so advanced that we won’t need surgery in the near future. The doctor will beam a light in your direction and everything will magically change.

SB Yeah, I’d love for a light beam to give me total muscles so I wouldn’t have to work out anymore.

Credits: PRODUCTION KIM POLLOCK AND YANN RZEPKA DIGITAL TECHNICIAN ALEX THEMISTOCLEOUS (MILK STUDIOS)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS FRANK TERRY, MATT HARTZ, JAMES PERRY RETOUCHING DTOUCH  EQUIPMENT MILK STUDIOS  LOCATION QUIXOTE STUDIOS  CATERING FOOD LAB

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